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Latest F1 news in brief
  • Briatore backs 'talented' Piquet
  • Mosley also sues newspaper in France
  • Button feeling 'better' about Honda this year
  • Whiting pleased after Valencia inspection
  • Theory floated for Kimi's bad Monaco GP
  • Hakkinen trophies destroyed in fire

Briatore backs 'talented' Piquet
(GMM)  Team boss Flavio Briatore has strongly backed Nelson Piquet amid rising speculation about the struggling rookie's dubious future at Renault.

"Nelsinho definitely has talent," the Italian is quoted as saying this week by sportnet, after yet another disappointing race for 22-year-old Piquet at Monaco last Sunday.

Rumors suggest that the Brazilian, whose despair was captured by photographers after he slid out of the prestigious race, has been handed a three race deadline to up his game, as laid-off Super Aguri lineup Anthony Davidson and Takuma Sato wait in the wings.

Briatore added: "He is a part of the team and we need him.  I have no doubts about that."

Briatore's comments come after his fellow Renault chief Pat Symonds insisted this week that Piquet, the son of his namesake and former triple world champion, is only lacking confidence following a disastrous opening third to his F1 career.

Engineering boss Symonds compares Piquet's performances so far in 2008 with his predecessor Heikki Kovalainen, who managed to turn around his fortunes at about the same time last year.

"At this time last year a lot of people were thinking Heikki was entering his last few races," the Briton told Renault's podcast this week.

"With a driver or a sportsman it's about self esteem, and believing in yourself.

"All Nelson needs to do is to turn that corner and believe in himself and it will happen again," Symonds added.

Mosley also sues newspaper in France
(GMM)  Max Mosley has launched legal action in France against the British newspaper News of the World, and appears more determined than ever to hold office in the wake of the sex scandal.

The embattled FIA president's French libel suit, also for invasion of privacy and defamation, follows similar court proceedings in the UK about his exposed romp with five prostitutes.

Also this week, it has emerged that the 68-year-old Briton turned down a proposed deal from a powerful FIA faction that would have ensured a confidence vote at Tuesday's FIA summit but paved the way for his early resignation this November.

The news followed reports that said the Briton is "totally relaxed" about the Paris date, and suggestions that he could capture 60 to 70 per cent of the FIA membership's vote even without a deal being in place.

Button feeling 'better' about Honda this year
(GMM)  In a press interview this week, Jenson Button showed no signs of losing patience with Honda or wanting to switch to a rival team.

The interview follows reports at Monaco that negotiations had begun to extend the 28-year-old Briton's contract beyond 2008.

A British newspaper said at Monaco that there is a chance Button will quit the Japanese team "to chase his dream of winning the drivers' world championship".

But to the German publication Auto Motor und Sport, Button said he is feeling "much better" about his seat at Brackley compared with one year ago.

"It's not so much about the results, which are not great yet," he said.

"It's that the general feeling has improved.  We are making progress at every race.

"The team was good in the first place but it has been strengthened with the right people," said Button, who was delighted with the appointment as team principal of Ross Brawn.

Button explained that, compared to the miserable situation in 2007, he now sees light at the end of the tunnel.

"I would not have wanted it to stay like last year.  I said to (Honda CEO Takeo) Fukui-san that something had to change.

"I put on the pressure that we should get Ross on board, and the reaction showed me that my opinion is taken seriously.

"When it was official that Ross had signed, I don't think there was one person in the team who was not enthusiastic.  Everyone thought: this is the turning point.

"Now I feel that it is worth it to wait."

Button said he is looking forward to next year.

"2009 is a special situation because the rules are changing so much -- everyone is going to start from zero.  That is our chance," he explained.

Whiting pleased after Valencia inspection
(GMM)  The FIA's Charlie Whiting this week gave a thumbs-up to the progress at the Valencia street circuit, following an inspection of the European grand prix site.

Spanish publications report that Whiting inspected the Circuito Urbano de Valencia, a bespoke street layout around the Spanish city's port, along with representatives of the event's promoters Valmor Sports, the Spanish motor racing federation and the regional government.

"Whiting praised the characteristics and the thoroughness with which (Valencia) is carrying out the construction," the newspaper El Pais wrote.

A representative of Spain's racing federation Real Federacion Espanola de Automoviliso (RFEDA), meanwhile, said Whiting was pleased that the street circuit has "all the safety features that exist in permanent facilities".

Theory floated for Kimi's bad Monaco GP
(GMM)  A theory has been floated as to why world champion Kimi Raikkonen had such a poor Monaco grand prix last weekend.

After qualifying behind his teammate Felipe Massa for the fifth time so far in 2008, the former world championship leader made two driving errors and was not on the pace.

Keke Rosberg, the 1982 world champion who is now a broadcast commentator for German TV, speculates that his Finnish compatriot was distracted by his off-track activities at the Principality.

"His eternal back-and-forth between the ship and the hotel room seemed not to be without consequence," Rosberg, 59, suggested to the German magazine Sport Bild.

At Monaco last weekend, Raikkonen's managers David and Steve Robertson offered to customers a spot on a luxury boat, with the 5000 euro per-head fee guaranteeing several personal appearances by the famous Ferrari driver.

On the other side of town, however, was Raikkonen's hotel -- 'Columbus', which is owned by his former McLaren teammate David Coulthard.

Sport Bild claims that throughout the weekend, Raikkonen, 28, was "constantly" buzzing between the boat and his hotel on a scooter.

Reportedly, Raikkonen got over his Monaco disappointment by taking in the Kiss concert in Helsinki this week.

Hakkinen trophies destroyed in fire
(GMM)  Mika Hakkinen's formula one trophies were destroyed along with his house in the south of France earlier this month.

"They were destroyed," the former double world champion and Finn confirmed to the Cologne newspaper Express.

The fire was reportedly triggered by a lighting fault in the cabinet that displayed the trophies won throughout 39-year-old Hakkinen's racing career.

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